Argument by gibberish
| Cogito ergo sum|
Logic and rhetoric
An argument by gibberish is one that relies on nonsense, inscrutable words, or impenetrable jargon, i.e. gibberish. An argument by gibberish is a formal fallacy and is a type of non sequitur. Because the argument by gibberish is a nonsensical argument, it may also try to rely on an appeal to emotion by verbal inflection, shouting, or use of emotive phrases (e.g., "Hell, I was born here!") that are tangential to the argument.
The form of the argument by gibberish is:
- P1: A valid proposition (or potentially a nonsensical sentence).
- P2: A nonsensical sentence.
- C: Therefore, X is true.
- P1: The sky is usually blue
- P2: Angels are sometimes blue because pixies are sometimes lazy depending on their mood
- C: Therefore angels are sometimes the sky
The argument by gibberish differs from word salad in that word salad may or may not be part of an argument, however word salad can form one or more of the premises and/or conclusions of an argument by gibberish. The argument may fail both in having incoherent premises and/or having an incoherent conclusion (meaning the argument may be non-sequitur and/or unsound).
Validity as a Fallacy?
Since an Argument by Gibberish is, in fact, gibberish, it could be argued that it isn't technically applicable to call it a "fallacy" per se anymore than it is to ask whether the angry shrieking of a particular rabid squirrel is fallacious or not.
From the film Blazing Saddles
“”There ain't no way that nobody is going to leave this town! Hell, I was born here and I was raised here… and goddamn it, I'm going to die here! And no sidewinder, bushwhacking, hornswoggling… cracker croaker, is going to ruin my biscuit-cutter!"
|—Gabby Johnson from the film Blazing Saddles|
Or in syllogistic form:
- P1: (unstated from previous discussion): We are not going to be driven away from this town.
- P2: Hell, I was born here…
- C: No one is going to leave this town.
From Time Cube
“”There is no teacher on Earth qualified to teach Nature's Harmonic Simultaneous 4-Day Rotating Time Cube Creation Principle, and therefore, there is no teacher on Earth worthy of being called a certified teacher.
“”God said 640x480 16 color was a covenant like circumcision.
Background, context and tools
If one wants to be understood, one must balance complexity and precision: complex language can increase our precision but it can also hamper it. Writers of gibberish deliberately increase complexity so as to minimise precision. They're hope is that by obscuring their arguments: (a) the audience won't realise that they have nothing to say, or (b) that the audience will think that it is just not clever enough to understand the argument. Writers who wish to avoid gibberish will increase complexity only when there is a marked (and necessary) increase in precision as well.
SMOG — simplified measure of gobbledygook — is a tool for assessing complexity of language, and from its use, one is better prepared to assess whether a piece of text is gibberish or not. SMOG measures the reading level required to understand a piece of text based on the number, on average, of syllables per word. Here's an example of a text analysed by SMOG from the rarefied heights (or depths, depending on one's skepticism of postmodernism) of cognition that is a Deleuzian philosopher:
|The criticism of our time… is indissociable from an investigation and experience of its transcendental field(s), of the (impersonal) tendencies and haecceities which traverse it, as well as the potentialities, utopian ones perhaps, with which our present can be composed. This 'geological' aspect of 'total critique' is of course essential to a dislocation of the present as atrophy and stultifying repetition of doxa.|
— Dr Alberto Toscano
- Argument by Gibberish — Logically Fallacious